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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Health bosses may be charged with MRSA deaths

6th October 2008

The government has said that hospital directors in charge of institutions where patient deaths have been caused by superbugs and negligence could face prosecution under new legislation.


The new manslaughter laws came into effect in April 2008 and allow corporations to be fined an unrestricted amount.

The Sentencing Guidelines Council is due to publish regulations which will clarify if a person can be put in prison if they have not paid the fine. Hospital directors who are convicted of "gross negligence" can also be put in prison.

Maria Eagle, the Justice minister, spoke to a group of NHS directors and warned that they should expect prosecution if they ignored health dangers.

She said: "Putting the offence into context, imagine that a patient has died in a hospital infected by MRSA and the issue of corporate manslaughter has been raised. Could the organisation be prosecuted and convicted? The answer is 'possibly'."

Relatives of affected patients have angrily reacted to the failure to respond to problems by the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust in Kent. A critical report was published by the Healthcare Commission in October 2007 after 90 deaths from the Clostridium difficile bug and more than 1,000 infections.

There were further outbreaks in 2005/06 and the chief executive of the trust resigned. She was given a £75,000 payout, but has this year lodged an action to receive more.


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